Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sunday Night Reflections

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Sunday's Soup/Autumn's Harvest Carrot Soup

The Labor Day holiday marks the unofficial end of summer here in the U.S. All the children will be back in school. And soon, summer will fade into our memories. But, one of the loveliest delights of early fall is all the fresh vegetables that are in abundance at the farmer's markets. For someone who loves vegetables, I am like a child in a candy store :) I could easily buy more than I can possibly use. 

This week has been a bit trying, so a holiday is just what I need, a little time to slow down and just not feel that I have to be on high speed for a day or so. With that comes the desire for a pot of soup. I especially like making big pots of soup this time of year, and freezing them in smaller batches that can be taken out of the freezer for lunch and a light dinner. The soup I'm sharing today will be enjoyed this evening, and then make its way into the freezer. I'm calling it an Autumn Harvest Soup as it just looks like fall to me with its rich orange color. The ingredients are simple, carrots, fennel, granny smith apples, and a sweet yellow onion. 

I began by sauteing the chopped onions and the chopped apples together.  

Added the carrots.

Then the chopped fennel along with the vegetable broth, thyme, and 2 bay leaves. The mixture was brought to a boil and the heat then reduced to a medium, and allowed to simmer until the carrots were tender, about 20 minutes. 

I saved the fronds of the fennel and chopped it a bit.

Once the carrots were tender, I used an immersion blender to puree the soup. When it was nice and creamy, I added the fennel fronds. The result is a soup that is a mix of savory and slightly sweet. Not dessert sweet, but vegetable sweet.

Autumn Harvest Carrot Soup
downloadable recipe

5 pounds carrots, washed, skinned and sliced
1 large sweet Vadalia yellow onion chopped
1 large bulb fennel chopped
2 large Granny Smith Apples chopped
8-10 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon thyme
Reserve fronds from fennel and chop 
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
salt and black pepper to taste

Heat oil and butter in large pot. Add onions and apples. Saute until onion is tender. Add carrots and stir well to combine. Pour in 8 cups of vegetable broth. Add chopped fennel, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. 
Remove bay leaves. Using an immersible hand mixer, blender, or food processor, blend soup mixture until creamy. Adjust the thickness of the soup if needed by adding more vegetable broth. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Mix in reserved fennel fronds.
Serve and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy the soup if you give it a try!   


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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Bring Back the Art of Tailoring

A year ago, while I was still president of the Haute Couture Club of Chicago, the board met for our summer planning meeting. For a number of years, the club had been giving scholarships to aspiring designers who were graduating from design school. Sadly, the school that we had partnered with, closed, so we needed a new strategy. Three of our board members had been mentoring 3 high school students who were interested in pursuing a career in fashion. So, rather than try and find another school to partner with, we decided to promote these young ladies. As it turned out, we loved it, and the audience loved it too. 

The young woman (Pearl) who won our top award was also awarded a scholarship to study at the Art Institute's school of fashion design. Such a wonderful opportunity for her. Although, she was lamenting that the sewing aspect of the program was lacking. So, I decided to help her out. Over the upcoming school year, I will be working with her to create a stitch and technique notebook as well as construct a true tailored jacket. I was so fortunate with the school that I attended as there was a very heavy focus on fine sewing skills. While in school, I built an incredible stitch and technique portfolio. Sadly, our basement flooded, and I lost my book. Needless to say, I was devastated. 

Back in June of this year, I taught a class on seam finishes and fabric stabilizing at the Michigan League of Handweavers conference. That gave me the incentive to begin building a new stitch and technique notebook. So, work has begun on mine, and as Pearl and I work together, my notebook will once again come to life :)

As it turned out, the board member who had been mentoring Pearl also wanted to participate in building a stitch/technique book, and make a true tailored jacket. At this point, I have gotten the 2 of them started. Their muslins have been fitted, and we are beginning the work of tailoring. I too will be putting together a tailored jacket so that they can follow along. So...in essence, if you would like, you can virtually be a part of the class as I will be posting each of the steps of my jacket here on the blog.

I have decided to use the vintage Vogue pattern that you see below. I have been wanting to make the jacket for years! A fellow Haute Couture member gave me the pattern as she felt that "it looked like" me :)

I'll be using this fabulous piece of wool. The contrasting collar will be in a solid navy blue wool or velvet. I'll decide that once I get a little closer to adding the collar. 

I just love the instructions. Not something you see in many patterns today. While looking at the pattern, I told Pearl that this was a time when we used the term, investment clothing. 

On the label of the pattern it says;

Straight from Paris to you - the fashion in this envelope. Your Paris Original was selected by Vogue at the dramatic opening of the designer's collection, then flown to America where a line-for-line translation was put into pattern form. 

Each piece that is included in the pattern is quite lovely. 

I am especially excited about this new project. Anytime I get something lovely out of the deal, I'm happy!!! I'm excited also about being able to pass along a little of my knowledge, and hopefully help a new generation who has not had the opportunities that I had (home ec in high school) to advance her skills. And too, I hope that there will be a little something to glean for all of you who stop by the blog :)

Happy Sewing!

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Are Those Pants???

Over the weekend, we took my mother out to dinner to celebrate her birthday. At one point during the evening, I went to the restroom. As I walked in, I saw a woman peeking out from behind the door of a stall. She said, "I am so happy to see you. Can you help me?" With that, she walked out from behind the door and I could see that she couldn't get the center back zipper of her jumpsuit pulled up. She said that she had been struggling with it for quite some time, and was so aggravated with herself for having worn the outfit. I told her that she wore the outfit because it was cute, which seemed to calm her down a bit. I felt so sorry for her. Poor thing, struggling so to try and get her zipper up. 

A few weeks before Becky of Trail Balloons and I started our August pant challenge, she sent me a note and said that she was putting a little package in the mail for me and thought that we could use it for our challenge. I was quite delighted when I opened the package as it contained not only fabric, but some of the most wonderful vintage buttons, and some lovely lace trims that were handmade. Such treasures!

When I saw the fabric, I immediately thought of making a jumpsuit. Becky had initially thought, pajamas. No, this fabric needs to see the light of day.

Becky is quite tall, with lovely long legs, the kind of legs that I always dreamed of having :) But, just as I said about round bottoms and flat bottoms...those of us who have round bottoms think the flat bottom girls have it made when in reality they struggle with fit just the same as those of us with round bottoms. And so, the girls with long legs also struggle to find pant legs that are long enough. Becky shared that she hated having pants that were just a little too short. But, the style of late is to have a pant leg that shows off the ankle. So, with a little bit of hesitancy, Becky jumped in and made the cutest jumpsuit with a cropped pant leg.

You can see her full post HERE. Be sure to take a look as she used 2 patterns, and then did a bit of drafting to put it all together. The back is absolutely adorable!

Once I received the fabric, I left it laying out so that I would see it multiple times a day as I knew that I wanted to make a jumpsuit, but what kind of a jumpsuit? I finally settled on a self-drafted piece, but then as I was looking for something totally unrelated, I came across the Amy Jumpsuit pattern from Closet Case Patterns.

I had intended to make it over the winter in a light weight wool, and wear it with a turtle neck sweater, but then I broke my arm :/  Oh well. I looked at the yardage requirements, 3.75 yards of 45" fabric. I only had 3 yards, and the print is a directional print, so every piece had to be cut in the same direction. Well, I wasn't going to give up that easily! I carefully laid the pieces out, 1 piece at a time, and low and behold...I could just make it happen!!! Well, the facings were cut with the print upside down, but who's looking?! ;) In the end, I literally had just a small pile of tiny pieces left over. I rather love it when that happens!

Here's my version of the Amy Jumpsuit. It's like wearing a jumpsuit, a pair of culottes, and a dress all wrapped into 1 little garment.  

My thoughts for the next time I make the piece:
1. I will lengthen the crotch 1". I have always had a problem with jumpsuits being just a bit short in the crotch. This garment is fine, but a smidge more room would be nice. 
2. I took about 3" out on either side of the waist at center back. The jumpsuit does have a side zipper, but it is only a 7" zipper, so it opens the garment to allow one to get into it, but not enough to have a closer fit. The garment is meant to be rather free and breezy, but the next time I make it, I will put a longer zipper in the side seam. This will mean working around the pocket, but that's doable. What I took out does not keep me from being able to comfortably get into the garment, but for a closer fit, a longer zipper will be needed.  
3. For a future garment, a belt would be great. I just didn't have enough fabric left to squeeze out even a strip of a belt. I love the Sobi Belt from Pattern Union. You can find the pattern HERE along with more pictures of the belt.  

Before I go, a funny story...
I got the jumpsuit to a point so that I could try it on. Rather than open the garment up between the 2 straps, and slide into it from the middle, I tried to squeeze in from the zipper opening side. I thought, "how am I ever going to get into this garment?!!!" Then it occurred to me that all I had to do was slip in from the middle. I felt like a nitwit ;) 

And 1 last word of advice...
Try not to put a zipper in the center back of a jumpsuit. You just might get stuck in the bathroom, and I may not be there to help!!!

Our final challenge is a fun one. Stay tuned:)

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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sunday Night Reflections

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Sunday Brunch/Whole Grain Turmeric Corn Cakes

After a lot of just plain ick in my life of late, I had the best news this week. My optometrist told me that unless I notice a change in my sight, I no longer need to see him on a six month, or even a yearly basis. I do need to continue seeing the retinologist so that he can monitor any growth of the moles on my retinas, but other than that, I am in great shape! WooHoo!!!

Since I was diagnosed with moles on my retina, I have become all the more conscious of eating foods that are high in vitamins that are good for the eyes. Believe it or not, turmeric is a spice that is great for so many things, but eye health is near the top of the list.

This morning I decided to try my hand at a pancake recipe that contains turmeric. The pancakes have a delightful orange color. 

Turmeric, on its own can be rather bitter, but paired with ginger, delicious! 

I began with 2 cups of cornmeal, 1 cup of whole grain wheat flour, 3 tablespoons of baking powder, salt, and 3 tablespoons of sugar. 

3 eggs, along with 2 cups of unsweetened coconut milk, and 1 tablespoon of fresh minced ginger were added.

The final ingredient, 3 teaspoons of turmeric powder.

The griddle was greased with oil, and 1/4th cup of batter used for each cake.

Once the bubbles began to pop, the cakes were turned and allowed to brown on the opposite side.

I served the cakes with good maple syrup. But fresh cooked applesauce would be great too!

Whole Grain Turmeric Corn Cakes
4 hearty servings

2 cups corn meal
1 cup wholegrain wheat flour
3 tablespoons baking powder 
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3 teaspoons ground turmeric powder
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

Combine all dry ingredients and mix well.
Add eggs, ginger, and coconut milk to dry mixture. Beat well until the batter is smooth.
Heat griddle over medium heat. Use a vegetable oil of choice to grease griddle. 
Place 1/4 cups of batter per cake on hot griddle. Bubbles will appear. When bubbles begin to pop, turn cakes to opposite side and cook for another minute, or until golden brown. Place cooked cakes on plate and repeat with remaining batter.
Serve with warm maple syrup. Fresh, warm applesauce would be another delicious option.  

If you give the recipe a try, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Happy Sunday!

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